Christopher Hoare lives with his wife, Shirley, and two shelter dogs, Coco and Emmie, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. As a lad he lived, breathed, and dreamed aeroplanes, won a place at RAE Farnborough learning to engineer them, but found the reality didn’t fit the dream. Did a stint in the army and then away to Libya to join the oil circus. Flying objects only appear as tools when they now appear in his writing.
His stories never take place next door to the lives most people live; the less charitable find similarity in characters who tend to be stubborn, independent, and contrarian. Perhaps there’s a connection between the worlds he portrays in fiction, and his working life in oil exploration in the Libyan Desert, the Canadian Arctic, and the mountains and forests of Western Canada.
He has written stories set in Anglo-Saxon Britain, in modern industrial projects, in the alternate world of Gaia, and the fantasy world of Rast. Sometimes known to satirize jobs and organizations he knows. Likes to write central characters who are smart, beautiful, and dangerous women who lead their male counterparts to fulfill dangerous duties they’d rather avoid. Gisel Matah in the Iskander series is perhaps the most Bond-like of these, but Jady in Rast can match her in many aspects.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Christopher. Can you tell us what your latest book, Rast, is all about?
Rast is a magic kingdom assailed by an imperialist adventurer who does not believe in magic. This happens at the worst possible time, when the magic has rebelled to destroy the ruling Drogar, and his heir has not yet taken its control into himself. Magic isn’t fun in Rast, it’s a killer, and in the interregnum many dormant perils gain power to rise up against the kingdom.
Prince Egon is the heir, a somewhat Hamlet-like young man who is carried forward by his sense of duty. His great concern is to gain control of the magic in a way that does not lead him into evil. Jady is his sweetheart who struggles against the necessity for him to marry the princess from the east, sent from cousins strong in magic to bear him a son who will become Drogar in his turn. Egon goes secretly to the coast to spy on Commander Antar, the Offrang invader, and is captured. While Egon gradually takes the Offrangs’ measure as Antar’s guide, Jady goes east to meet the princess coming to replace her with both duty and anger warring in her breast.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Almost all my characters are invented, but perhaps Commander Antar is the closest to a real person — an arrogant and closed minded materialist.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
Today I tend to sketch out the destination of my novels, but that didn’t happen with Rast. I had no idea where it was going when I started.
Q: Your book is set in an imaginary world. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
I deliberately chose no city for the novel because I do not hold cities in the same regard as do most people. In the information age larger groups of people can interact without breathing the same air and drinking the same water. I look for a post-urban future where people leave the herd and are freed to become themselves.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
The story hinges upon the magic kingdom, and the reader’s immersion in it. Rast is somewhat of a Shangri La, if an imperfect one, that is assailed by the external forces of technology and imperialism and where its magic must be gathered up before it can be used to save it.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
Prince Egon and Jady have quarreled over his acceptance of the princess from the east. As he rides westwards with Brach, one of his captains, to spy on the invaders, he gives the last of his instructions for his absence. He keeps glancing back to see if Jady is following and mentions that he must find her a husband. Brach replies “… such a campaign that you speak of, that cannot be won by arm and sword, is not one I should be captain in.” “Nor I,” Egon agrees.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
“Gamelyn they call me, youngest son of the Petrarch of Easderly.” He bowed deeply in childish dignity. “At your service, madam.”
The curtain of the palanquin moved again. “Who is that you speak with?” the Princess demanded.
“A guide named Jady, Sister. She has a bow and crystal tipped arrows.”
“What guide? Has she word of my honor guard from Rast?”
Jady walked across the intervening ground to stand beneath the palanquin. “I must inform you, lady, the Drogar is close to death, and Prince Egon has trouble in the west with Offrangs. There are North Folk afoot also. It is not safe for you to continue to Rast at this time. Let wisdom guide you and return from whence you came.”
The Princess swept the curtain aside and looked down angrily. “Are you guide or doom prophet? I expect the Prince to send me suitable escort for my arrival. What authority have you to speak as such to me, woman?”
“The authority of a captain of Rast. The authority of the Soulingas, Guardian of the Silent Forest.”
The Princess tilted her chin upwards. “You are the Jady my aunt has mentioned in her letters?”
“There is no other.”
The Princess’s eyes, green with flecks of gold, flashed fury like a falcon un-hooded. “The Prince sends you to guide me?”
“He did not. He had no time to make arrangements before he left. Doubtless he expected to return in time to make them.”
“So…if he sent you not––”
“It was my own wit that saw the need. It is by my own will I have come to meet you.”
“Then better you understand this. I will not be halted nor delayed—by you or anyone else. If you know a suitable path I shall be pleased to have Captain Bornas accept your guidance. But I shall rule in Rast—there be no room for us both. Hear me?”
Jady’s dark eyes rose to meet the Princess’s green. “I hear you and waver not in my heart, Princess.”
Princess Agatha turned her face away abruptly so her eye lit upon Bornas. “Have someone bring me water. I am thirsty.”
“The water is very brackish, Princess. I think ye’ll like it not––”
“Then sweeten it, man. Servants! Where are my servants? Bring my stairs. I wish to alight.”
The small encampment became a bustle of hurrying figures. The servants sprang from their unloading of the pack animals to find the dark oder-wood stairs. Three stalwart slaves turned from setting up the princess’s marquee to carry them forward on their shoulders.
When they were set, the Seneschal of Caravansi climbed them to offer a steadying hand as the Princess alighted.
“Let me taste this water, it cannot be that terrible after such a hot and dusty day.”
A soldier stepped forward with a basin of Toosonim water and the Seneschal poured a little into a golden drinking horn. The Princess barely set it to her lips before pulling a face and dashing it to the ground. “What! You have no better?”
Jady slowly lifted the strap of her pinched water bag from her shoulder and held it out.
The Princess directed her eye at the Seneschal.
“Thank you, lady captain,” he said as he took the bag and poured some of the water into a fresh golden drinking horn.
The Princess tasted cautiously and then smiled. “It is good. Is it all you have?”
“Pour me the rest,” she commanded the Seneschal.
With an apologetic glance at Jady, the man did as he was commanded.
The Princess drank it all and then stared hard at Jady. “I’m glad we understand one another.”
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Christopher. We wish you much success!
Thank you for the opportunity. If I may I will tell your readers where they might learn more. One place is my website — http://www.christopherhoare.ca/ and the other is my publisher’s site https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=55&category_id=64&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1.